Book Review

Creative Writing Skills – Lexi Rees

I have got something for aspiring authors of all ages today, in the shape of Creative Writing Skills, a fantastic little workbook from Lexi Rees. Many thanks to Lexi, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of today’s blog blitz, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Discover the secrets to becoming an amazing author

  • Find your creative spark
  • Grow your skills and confidence
  • Have more fun with your writing

Packed with top tips, this awesome workbook has everything you need to know about creating colourful characters, perfect plots, dynamite dialogue, and lots more …

Creative Writing Front Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Creative Writing Skills is a book that just leaps out at you with its brightly coloured, eye-catching cover. The chapter headings are snappy and attention grabbing, and the book itself is clearly set out. The different fonts used, and the pages littered with doodles to keep it interesting, rather than it just being a flat, boring textbook of instructions, as some creative writing books can be. It offers an instant confidence boost to the nervous would-be writer, stressing that it is the story that is important, and not whether or not you can spell or sail through a grammar test.

Although this book is very much aimed at kids, I loved the little exercises and I can see myself using these to get the creative juices flowing on days when my writing is a little blocked. There are so many different writing prompts and exercises covering all sorts of genres meaning that there is something for everyone, no matter what their interests or favourite genre to read.

This really is a great, fun, little book and is something I would have killed for when I was a child – it would definitely have been worthy of me saving my pocket money up for!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lorraine-16Lexi Rees writes action packed adventures for children. As well as the Creative Writing Skills workbook, the first book in The Relic Hunters Series, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids and is currently longlisted for a Chanticleer award. The sequel, Wild Sky, will be published in November.

When not writing, she’s usually covered in straw or glitter, and frequently both.

She also runs a free club for kids designed to encourage a love of reading and writing which you can check out here https://lexirees.co.uk/kidsclub/

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 2 copies of Creative Writing Skills –

Choice of paperback or pdf for UK winners and pdf for international winners.

https://kingsumo.com/g/gw6isv/creative-writing-skills-workbook

Book Review

The Sentinel’s Alliance – Suzanne Rogerson

Happy Publication Day to Suzanne Rogerson, as The Sentinel’s Alliance, the final book in the Silent Seas Chronicles trilogy hits the book shops today! As you will know from my reviews of the previous books in the trilogy, The Lost Sentinel and The Sentinel’s Reign, I am a big fan of Suzanne’s, and as such I am over the moon to be taking part in the publication day events for the latest book. Thanks once again to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Before I press on and tell you all about this book, I just have a little announcement to share with you all:

To celebrate publication day, all three books of the Silent Sea Chronicles series are 99p today!

How amazing is that. Here are the links if you want to take advantage of this offer – believe me, you won’t regret it.

The Lost Sentinel

The Sentinel’s Reign

The Sentinel’s Alliance

BLURB:

As the island of Kalaya and its people recover from civil war, a new threat surfaces. Invaders from the island of Elkena hunt the seas, butchering those who possess magic. Their scar-faced captain seeks the Fire Mage who it has been foretold will kill him and Tei and her people are in his warpath.

Tei and a band of Kalayans travel to Stone Haven, the home of their new allies, planning to restore magic to the dead island. But the Stone Haven Council have abhorred magic since their people were massacred by Elkenan invaders twenty years before. Commander Farrell must persuade his people to accept magic again, but his plans expose them to their biggest fear and he risks leading Tei and her people into danger, and jeopardising the safety of both their islands.

Under Farrell’s guidance treaties are forged, but is the newly formed Silent Sea Alliance enough to defeat the invaders and stop their bloodthirsty quest to destroy magic forever?

The Sentinels Alliance ebook complete

REVIEW:

As I mentioned in my review of The Sentinel’s Reign, as that book drew to a close it felt as though the series had reached it’s conclusion, until the final revelation of the book. I must admit that, at that time, as happy as I was to have another Silent Seas book to read, I wasn’t too sure about suddenly adding in the inhabitants of a new island that we really didn’t know too much about until that point. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that, although a resolution might have been reached for the Kalayans in The Sentinel’s Reign, the same could not be said for the people of Stone Haven, and it only felt right that they should have their chance too.

Although Kalaya still sees its fair share of the action in this book, I adored sailing the Silent Sea, spending more time with the people of Stone Haven better, and catching glimpses of the inhabitants of the other islands that populate the Sea. Even better, my two favourite characters were major players in this book, and I loved seeing them grow into the parts they would play in the Alliance. Once again, amongst her beautifully crafted world, Suzanne Rogerson has created a story that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, and I couldn’t read the book fast enough to answer all the questions forming in my mind, as I was so desperate to find the answers.

As I was reading the Silent Sea Chronicles, I was at times put in mind of Emma Miles’ Firewalker Series, which I love, and which I know a few of you will have read. If you enjoyed that series, this one is a must read for you.

Although this book felt like a fitting end to the book, I reached the last page with a heavy heart, as I was reluctant to leave the people of the Silent Sea. However, having read Suzanne’s note at the end of the book, I have reason to hope that perhaps I will be able to return there one day!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 1

June was an excellent reading month for me, largely because I was on holiday for two weeks with nothing to do but relax with a book and a cocktail or two. By some miracle, I was also up to date on all of my blog tour reading, which meant I could dedicate the entire fortnight to working on my ever increasing TBR pile. I struck gold, and some really amazing books came out of the jar, but as there are twelve of them to tell you about, I will be splitting this month’s book jar update over three posts, for the sake of all our sanity! For now, here are the first four books that I read this month. If you want to find out more info about any of these books, just click on the title, and you will find yourself winging your way to their Goodreads page.

40589951._SX98_First up was The Promise by Teresa Driscoll. This is a book which I received from NetGalley an embarrassingly long time ago (my apologies to the author), so I was really pleased when I pulled it from the jar for June. Now I have read it, I am left wondering why I left it so long to read. It is filled with all the suspense and twists and turns that you could wish for in a psychological thriller, but it goes deeper than that as the heartbreakingly sad story that triggered the events of the book unfolds. Strangely characters that I didn’t particularly like at the beginning of the book I ended up loving, and vice versa to a certain extent. I hadn’t read anything by Teresa Driscoll before, but I will certainly be reading more now.

35114147._SX98_Book number two was another NetGalley book, Marked Beauty by S.A. Larsen. As a YA Fantasy book, this was always going to be a winner for me, although I have to confess I don’t think it will ever be one of my favourites from this genre. I found the magic system that surrounds the story a little complicated, and whilst I wouldn’t say that this affected my enjoyment of the book too much, it did make it more of a challenge to follow than other similar books I have read. Aside from this, Marked Beauty is a book filled with emotion and tension, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any potential sequel(s).

3112850._SX98_My third holiday read was Lament by one of my favourite authors, Maggie Steifvater. I am not quite sure how this one passed me by, but I have had it for a while without actually reading it. This book is classic Steifvater, filled with irresistibly dangerous boys and beautifully crafted worlds. My grown up head would perhaps question some of the decisions made by Dee, but at the same time, aren’t fantasy books all about escapism, and making the dangerous (or stupid) choice in order to save the bad boy from his fate? I loved meeting all the different faerie characters that appear to Dee once the veil between their world and ours is lifted, and was left feeling inspired to get back to my own writing.

39890691._SX98_The final book for this post is yet another NetGalley book (this holiday will do wonders for my stats over there!), In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards. Now, I have read a few of Mark’s books and I am a big fan, but I definitely found this one to be a touch creepier than others I have read. In fact, to begin with I was totally freaked out by it (although as friends will tell you, I scare pretty easily). As always with Mark, the book is excellently written, and I was gripped from the first page – in fact I read most of the book in one sitting, and not just because I was too on edge to go to sleep! Despite the lack of sleep caused, Mark remains firmly at the top of my list of favourite thriller writers.

If you are still with me after all that, keep your eyes peeled for Part Two coming up in the next few days.

 

 

Book Review

The Sentinel’s Reign – Suzanne Rogerson

It is time for part two of the blog tour bonanza for Suzanne Rogerson’s Silent Seas Chronicles, and today I can tell you all about book two of the series, The Sentinel’s Reign. Thanks again to Suzanne and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

The Sentinel’s reign is doomed to failure unless Tei can prevent the Kalayan people from plunging into war.

With the new Sentinel initiated and the magic restored on Kalaya, life is flourishing for Tei and the exiles. But Rathnor’s plans for war soon escalate and thwart any chance of peace.

Brogan’s position on the Assembly is uncertain as rumours circulate that he is an exile spy.

After an attempt on his life, Farrell is more determined than ever to build a home for his people on Stone Haven. But the council have their sights set on Kalaya and Farrell struggles to steer them from war.

As trouble brews within and outside forces gather against them, can the exiles keep their hold on the magic, or will this spell the end of Kalaya and its people?

The Sentinel's Reign ebook complete

PURCHASE LINK:

Purchase here

REVIEW:

I want to write this review without repeating too much of what I said about The Lost Sentinel, but I do have to make mention of Suzanne’s beautiful world building and character development again. Her vivid descriptions make me wish I could pay a visit to the Silent Sea and meet the inhabitants of Kalaya and Stone Haven in person.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters better this time around, and really understanding what made some of them tick, finding out why they acted the way they did. For more than one this meant a major change of opinion about them, and my favourite characters were constantly changing. I found my emotions wildly bouncing from joy, to heartbreak, to triumph and everything in between as the story unfolded around them, and lives were changed forever.

Throughout this book, the tension continually builds and builds before reaching a dramatic conclusion, and just when you think a resolution has been reached, Suzanne unleashes a huge cliffhanger that sent me scurrying for book three (more on that in a few days).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

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Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub

For more information on this, and the first book in the series, make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Lost Sentinel – Suzanne Rogerson

Today marks the start of a trilogy of reviews coming up over the next few days for Suzanne Rogerson’s brilliant Silent Seas Chronicles. Many thanks to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this blogging bonanza, and for providing me with copies of the books.

BLURB:

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel.

The Assembly controls Kalaya. Originally set up to govern, they now persecute those with magic and exile them to the Turrak Mountains.

Tei, a tailor’s daughter, has always hidden her magic but when her father’s old friend visits and warns them to flee to the mountains she must leave her old life behind.
On the journey, an attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He entrusts her into the care of the exiles and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession.
Struggling with self doubt, Tei joins the exiles search for the new Sentinel who is the only person capable of restoring the fading magic. But mysterious Masked Riders are hunting the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.

Against mounting odds it will take friendship, heartache and sacrifice for the exiles to succeed in their quest, but is Tei willing to risk everything to save the island magic?

THE LOST SENTINEL COVER

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase here

For the duration of the blog tour all books in the Silent Sea Chronicles series are 99p.

REVIEW:

The Lost Sentinel starts with a prologue that gives an instant sense of peril and I knew straightaway that this would be a book that I would not be able to put down. I am a big fan of prologues in books anyway, but this grabbed my attention and sucked me straight in to the magical land of Kalaya.

Suzanne Rogerson is a skilled world builder and I found that I was totally immersed in the story, the real world just falling away from me. This is exactly why fantasy is my favourite genre, but it is rare that a world absorbs me to the extent that the Silent Seas did.

The Lost Sentinel is a rich storyline told from various viewpoints, and as I tried to work out how these would all intertwine over the course of the books, I found I was asking more and more questions, and reading faster and faster. It is the sort of book that you want to read slowly so it doesn’t end, but at the same time you can’t help but race through.

Among the many characters, there were many that I loved, but special mention has to go to honourable Brogan, sweet little Beliss, and dedicated Farrell. There were also characters I loved to hate but I will leave you to discover them for yourselves.

As soon as I read the last page, I had to move straight on to book two. There was no way I could wait to find out what was going to happen next!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part, and head back over here on 30th June for the next instalment.

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Book Review

The Ice Cream Parlour – Isabella May

As you well know by now, I can never resist a book by Isabella May, and so I am over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for her latest book, The Ice Cream Parlour. Many thanks to Isabella, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for providing me with my copy of the book.

BLURB:

Giovanna Tonioli is a successful stockbroker with a famous sports star boyfriend, but things aren’t as sweet as they seem. When life in the city of Bath goes from Vanilla to Rocky Road, she takes herself off to Italy for an ‘Eat Pray Love’ style tour of all things gelateria. What she doesn’t expect to find on her travels is one smooth, hot dollop of temptation that she just can’t shake. 

How will her spiteful twin sister react when Giovanna returns to open a rival ice cream parlour? Will Natalia get her just desserts? Or will things become even stickier? All’s fair in love, war and ice cream. Isn’t it?

*Marian Keyes meets Paulo Coelho meets Nigella*

The Ice Cream Parlour is a mouthwatering tale of fate, family, love and jealousy – with a delectable drizzle of alchemy besides.

The Ice Cream Parlour Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say? From the delectable front cover to the mouthwatering gelato and ice cream flavours (yes, there is a difference), Isabella’s latest offering is another triumph.

I have something of a love affair with Italy, and gelato to be honest, and reading this book made me long to return. Capri is one of my bucket list destinations and reading this book just made me move it closer to the top of the list. I lived in Bath too for a short period, and Isabella’s descriptions took me right back to my time there.

They say that hell hath no fury, and this is certainly true of Giovanna. Although some of her decision making was perhaps questionable, you can’t help but fall in love with her spirit and passion. No matter what adversity she faces, she just keeps fighting back. Alongside Giovanna, there is a colourful supporting cast, each individual and beautifully developed. I loved getting to know the regular customers at the ice cream parlour, their little quirks and favourite choices of frozen dessert.

This book isn’t all about the food though. It also comes with a healthy dose of intrigue relating to a certain well known Italian family, a dash of romance, and a rather dramatic conclusion.

Isabella May has created such a strong brand with her instantly identifiable, gorgeously tempting covers, she is one author where you know you can always judge the book by it’s cover. Add to this the sprinkling of magic and spirituality that has become Isabella’s trademark in her writing, and you have another winner.

I could rave about the beauty of this book for hours and still never say enough. You really must read it – just not when you are hungry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author PicIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, gelato, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.

The Ice Cream Parlour is her fourth novel.

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For more mouth-watering goodness, why not have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Extracts

Pink Ice Creams – Jo Woolaston

When I read the blurb for Pink Ice Creams, I was disappointed to realise that I wouldn’t have time to read it in time to review it on the blog tour, so you can imagine how happy I was when Jo Woolaston kindly provided me with an extract from the book to share with you all. Many thanks to Jo, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

BLURB:

Intent on fixing her broken marriage and the alcohol-fuelled catastrophe that is her life, Kay Harris arrives at her grim and grey holiday let, ready to lay to rest the tragedy that has governed her entire adulthood – the disappearance of her little brother, Adam.

But the road to recovery is pitted with the pot-holes of her own poor choices, and it isn’t long before Kay is forced to accept that maybe she doesn’t deserve the retribution she seeks. Will the intervention of strangers help her find the answers she needs to move on from her past, or will she always be stuck on the hard shoulder with no clear view ahead and a glove box full of empties?

Pink Ice Creams is a tale of loss, self-destruction, and clinging on to the scraps of the long-lost when everyone else has given up hope.

Pink Ice Creams - eBook Cover

EXTRACT:

Kay’s excessive drinking brings its own set of problems – memory loss and drunken encounters with strangers who she must then try to extricate herself from. But not all strangers remain so. Pete is not exactly the catch of the century but, if she lets him into her ordinarily closed world, perhaps he could be the diversion that leads her away from it for the better, who knows. But for now, he is just a pair of unfamiliar feet sticking out of the end of her bed…

So do the feet belong to Sanctimonious Sean or Brother Bollock-Head? Maybe neither, there was that toothless old geezer who drew a cartoon of my arse on the bar with spittle and a split finger nail.

‘Not seen you around these parts.’

‘Is that the same as ‘do you come here often’?’

‘On your holidays are ya?’

‘Yes, but not looking for romance.’

‘Drink?’

‘No thanks. And my arse is not that big.’

‘Well, a peanut here and a peanut there and you’ve got yourself a cracking pair of tits.’

People with so few teeth shouldn’t eat peanuts, I can barely read the answers on his quiz sheet under the debris. Quito, whatever that is. Question nine.

I knew Beachy Head was in Sussex not Dorset, and I would have said something but felt such an idiot after saying Di Caprio when I meant Da Vinci so whoever is in my bed I haven’t exactly lured here with my sparkling intellect. I need a plan. If I sneak out of bed and go out, he might get up and leave, avoiding any morning after awkwardness. But then if I move he might wake up. How old are his feet? They’re a bit manky but the toe-nails aren’t yellow and curled up, just a bit unkempt. If I stay still and pretend to be asleep then when he wakes up he can sneak out. But what if he’s pretending to be asleep and waiting for me to sneak out of bed and go out, so that he can get up and leave? Bloody hell Kay, just get up

There, he didn’t even move a muscle, where are my clothes? Quiet, quiet… Eeeeee… sssshhh ssh, ow ow ow, what a stupid place to put a radiator! Same toe as yesterday too, no wonder it hurts, the nail is split right down the middle.

Whoever he is he’s a heavy sleeper, that clang was loud enough to wake the dead. Is he breathing? My God, is he alive? Waking up with a stranger is one thing but waking up with a corpse is another thing entirely, what was that? Oh thank God, thank God! He farted, hallelujah! Jesus, oh for heaven’s sake get out of the bedroom quick, that is quite ripe. Stale ale.

“Mornin’”

Oh no, he’s the conversational type.

“Got any Marmite?”

“No.”

“Bacon? My mouth tastes like a sewer, that landlord ain’t cleaned his pipes for years.”

But you just have, and in my bed you stinky-arsed cretin.

“…Sean..?”

“Pete. The other Bollock-Head. The handsome one.”

“I’m Kay.”

“Oh I know. I know all about you, Jesus, I got your life story last night, over and over and over again.”

What was I worried about? No awkwardness here. Just simple, polite conversation taking place amidst the rancid stench-fog of a complete stranger’s innards.

“Well if a bacon butty is off the cards you can just make us a cuppa.”

“No I won’t. I’m sorry, but… I’d like you to leave.”

“Charmin’! You wouldn’t have got home if it wasn’t for me. I only stayed to make sure you didn’t choke on your own vomit, which incidentally is all down my Sunday best. My soaking wet Sunday best from jumping in the brook to save your bloody mobile phone.”

“You should have slept in the bunk room.”

“I’m not six! I was tired and I was pissed, it was the best option available even if it did mean sleeping next to a jabbering crackpot. And I may be neither Leonardo Di Caprio nor Da Vinci, but I can assure you I wouldn’t offer you a walk home again for all the thanks I get.”

He is clearly more adept at manoeuvring around a tight space than me, and is clothed and taking his leave far quicker than I thought imaginable.

“I’m sorry… about the Marmite.”

“Lost my appetite, you don’t get much ventilation in these places, eh? Fuckin’ reeks in here.”

I follow him to the door, all thanks and sorrys and questions about what may or may not have occurred between us sticking in my throat. The sooner he goes the better. I can put this out of my mind, whatever this was. He hesitates at the door. No, please, just go. GO!

“We didn’t… you know”

“Know what?’”

“Me and you. There was none of… that.”

“Oh thank God!”

“Steady on, I’m not that bad!”

“I didn’t mean it like that. I’m married. Happily married.”

“Ha!”

“What do you mean, ‘Ha’?”

“He’s left ya, or if he hasn’t – he will.”

“We had a row, but it’s just temporary.”

“You reckon? After what you’ve done I wouldn’t go near you with a barge pole.”

PURCHASE LINKS:

Hopefully that little snippet has sparked your interest as much as it has mine. If it has you can order your copy of the book here:

Amazon UK – Paperback

Amazon UK – Kindle

Amazon.com – Paperback

Amazon.com – Kindle

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pink Ice Creams Bio Pic

Jo Woolaston lives in Leicestershire, England with her extreme noise-making husband and two lovely sons. She tries to avoid housework and getting a ‘proper job’ by just writing stuff instead – silly verse, screenplays, shopping lists…

This sometimes works in her favour (she did well in her MA in TV Scriptwriting, gaining a Best Student award in Media and Journalism – and has had a few plays produced – that kind of thing) but mostly it just results in chronic insomnia and desperate tears of frustration. Pink Ice Creams is her first novel, she hopes you liked it.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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To find out more about Pink Ice Creams, why not head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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